Job description


Senior Research Assistant (Mental Health and Learning Disabilities) (2569)

We are seeking to appoint an experienced Research Assistant to be based within our Mental Health Research Cluster at MMU. This is an exciting team with a strong track record led by Professor Joy Duxbury. Our research has a strong emphasis on reducing restrictive practices in mental health and learning disabilities settings. 

The Mental Health Research Cluster

The Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care at Manchester Metropolitan University has a long history of applied research across several interdisciplinary strands and an exciting opportunity has arisen to contribute to timely research in the area of mental health. The Mental Health Cluster is part of seven research clusters within the faculty’s Health, Psychology and Communities Research Centre. Led by Prof Joy Duxbury, the Mental Health research cluster brings together a range of disciplines, ideologies and approaches in the exploration of mental health. Our vision is to promote values-based approaches within the global sphere of mental health to improve the lives of people affected by mental health difficulties and learning disabilities. We drive evidence-based research, working alongside experts by experience to foreground their realities and raise the profile of their voices in order to make positive change at organisational and societal levels. We critically engage in a range of different approaches to support knowledge generation and ultimately seek to improve the quality of life for individuals and families who experience difficulties linked to mental health and learning disabilities. This includes methodologies that are underpinned and driven by co-creation including participatory, action research, experience based co-design, narrative and lived experience inquiry and mixed methods.

The role

The successful applicant will be appointed as the main Research Assistant (RA) to work on an NIHR funded project (NIHR129524) that entails a realist review of approaches used to prevent and reduce the use of restrictive interventions on adults with learning disabilities in NHS and independent sector settings. This includes adults with learning disabilities who also have autism or mental health co-morbidities.

Despite national and international guidelines and political and public pressure to reduce and prevent the use of restrictive interventions on vulnerable populations, these are still common. Restrictive interventions can include the use of observation, seclusion, physical restraint, mechanical restraint, rapid tranquilisation and/or other chemical restraint. Recent data point to a significant 50% increase in the use of restrictive interventions on adults with learning disabilities in English hospitals. A number of approaches have been implemented in healthcare services over the last decade to address this issue - Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), Safewards, the Six Core Strategies, REsTRAIN Yourself. Despite their widespread use, there is no unifying theory that explains how or why these methods are supposed to ‘work’ in reducing the use of restrictive interventions. This review will fill a gap in the evidence base by developing programme theories of why current approaches work and do not work in preventing and/or reducing restrictive interventions with this vulnerable population.

The successful applicant will work closely with the Chief Investigator, Prof Joy Duxbury and the co-CI, Dr Alina Haines, as well as other key members of the research team to conduct the review and produce the final report. He/she will contribute to all aspects of the project, e.g. administrative tasks, the conduct of the realist review, including theory development and testing, evidence synthesis, stakeholder consultation and primary data collection, writing of the final report and disseminating results.

The person

Applicants should have a degree in a relevant discipline (e.g. psychology, health services research, nursing) and a Masters Degree in research methods or a health related discipline. They should have experience of literature reviews conducted in a systematic way and writing research publications, with strong organisational, interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills. Knowledge of or experience in the mental health area and learning disabilities are essential, as well as experience of qualitative research data collection and analysis, e.g. interviews and/or focus groups. Knowledge of and evidence of research ethics/good clinical practice training are also essential. Experience and expertise in realist review or realist evaluation would be desirable, but not essential. They should be able to work independently and as part of a team with a proven capacity to deliver work to agreed deadlines. They should be able to commence their employment by 1st May 2020 and attend compulsory training which will take place 18th -22nd May 2020 at Oxford University. They should be able to travel for data collection and have access to own vehicle, including a full driving licence.

Details about the post

This is a fixed term Full Time appointment at Research Assistant Grade 6 (£28, 331 p.a.).

There is an with an estimated start date of 1st May 2020 for this vacancy. The funds for this post are available for 22 months from commencement in post.

For informal enquiries, contact Dr Alina Haines on, 0161 2472461 or Elaine Craig on, 0161 2472847. Please ensure that with your application you include a CV and covering letter outlining your suitability for the role.

If you would like to join our people and share our ambition, we would love to hear from you.

Close map
Manchester Birley Campus
53 Bonsall Street, Manchester, UK, M15 6GX
  • Location:
    Manchester Birley Campus
  • Faculty / Function:
    Health, Psychology and Social Care
  • Salary:
    Grade 6 (£26,715 to £30,046)
  • Closing Date:
    27 February 2020
  • Contract Type:
    Fixed Term
  • Contracted Hours per week:
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